‘Gary Hooper can do anything’, says admiring Kris Commons
KRIS Commons believes Celtic team-mate Gary Hooper has limitless potential after the striker marked his first Champions League start with a goal in a famous victory.
Hooper’s first-time finish set Celtic on their way to a 3-2 win against Spartak Moscow in the Champions League on Tuesday, their first away victory in the group stages of the competition.
Georgios Samaras made his first start since recovering from an elbow injury sustained on international duty with Greece last month and scored a late winner. However Lennon, while glad to see his seemingly endless faith in Samaras had been vindicated again, described Hooper’s performance as “world class” after his striker had opened the scoring with his seventh goal in four games.
Hooper, who has scored seven times in four games, set up the second goal and his alertness to receive a short free-kick paved the way for Emilio Izaguirre to cross for the last-minute winner by Samaras. The former Scunthorpe striker’s pace also drew a red card for Juan Insaurralde with Spartak 2-1 ahead.
Commons did not disagree with Lennon’s rather bold assessment. “When he [Gary] puts his mind to it, he can be anything,” said the former Nottingham Forest and Derby player. He has great movement, he is a natural goalscorer, he leads the line well and he is so strong. Even if his marker is quicker than him, he puts his body in positions and gets away from him and he has vision as well. Not many strikers have got great vision but he always seems to set me up for goals as well, which is good.”
Commons assessed Celtic’s chances of reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League as “a lot better than they were before the Spartak game” but is aware that the Scottish champions, in second place in Group G with four points from two games, face a double-header against group leaders Barcelona.
“We have Barcelona away and home and, realistically, a point from both would be magnificent,” he said. “They are the bookies favourites to win the trophy and rightly so, they have the best team and the best squad in the world. For us to try to think about getting anything off them… it would be a dream come true.
“We will probably need some luck along the way. I think it will come down to our home games and trying to nick points off Benfica. But you know how hard it is to get a result away from home in the Champions League and for us to produce that against Spartak after going 2-1 down is tremendous.
“It is a great feeling and the lads are buzzing.”
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